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PG&E

Successful V1 launches of Waive Deposit & Recurring Payments

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Strategic CX improvements to Start/Stop/Transfer

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Reduction in Customer Calls

BACKGROUND

Improving online Customer Experience (CX) led to ~96,000 fewer customer calls.
 
V1 Release of Waive Deposit
 
V1 Release of Recurring Payments
 
Strategic CX improvements to Start/Stop/Transfer

Bill Protection comparison table of actual vs projected Rate Plans

​​Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) is the largest regulated public utility in the country, serving vast regions of Northern & Central California.

 

Anytime you can facilitate online business so that a user doesn't need to call Customer Service--it saves the company money!

 

This holds true for any company, not just PG&E. Plus, it's also a better experience for the end user to accomplish something efficiently online vs. having to call Customer Service (only to discover the call center is busy with long wait times or closed outside of normal business hours).

​The high-visibility Waive Deposit endeavor comprised the newly-formed Agile team, from PG&E employees (including Product, Engineering, UX/CX, Executive Management, etc.), plus highly-experienced consultants.

 

HIGH LEVEL TIMELINE
11-months on multiple concurrent projects.
MAKE OF THE TEAM
Staff CX Designer plus myself leading separate projects--with ability to collaborate.
KEY GOALS
V1 Releases: Waive Deposit, Recurring Payments, & Bill Protection. Improvements to Start/Stop/Transfer.
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MY ROLE

Lead CX Design Consultant on 2-Person Team

I was a Lead Customer Experience (CX) Designer Consultant on a 2-person team (Staff CX Design Lead + myself) for V1 Releases of Customer-facing Responsive Web Applications, within the newly defined Agile group. Prior to this, PG&E tech initiatives all used Waterfall methodologies. This was the start of an eventual corporate transition to Agile.

 

Our CX Team were in San Ramon, CA along with Engineering (some offshore). Both Product and Executive Management were local (San Ramon and/or SF HQ). Copywriters, Corporate Design, plus external Accessibility consulting firm were in San Francisco. As a regulated public utility, PG&E was legally required to adhere to strict WCAG 2.0 / Section 508 Compliance for customer-facing apps.


​My CX colleague was an invaluable resource to collaborate with, as she had been with PG&E a number of years and understood the corporate processes.

Our work was primarily CX Design (wireframes) using design elements already established by Corporate Design. In instances of breaking ground on new design elements, I collaborated with Corporate Design for guidance, then submitted design variations for their ultimate approval.

Call Center Headset

CX STRATEGY

Waive Deposit

Eliminate the anxiety
and make it EASY


Sign-up rate of over 75%, far exceeding expectations

CX Strategy on Waive Deposit

User Stories for the newly formed Agile team included new Payment Options (i.e., Setup Recurring Payments, Pay with Credit Card, etc.)​ which led into the high-profile endeavor, Wave Deposit feature.

When a new customer went online to start new service, certain factors could trigger a Deposit requirement. Typically lower credit score but also encompassed other factors, (i.e., a rental property where previous tenants didn't pay their PG&E bill, thus the address gets flagged as higher-risk, etc.).

New customers setting-up new service online and faced with an unexpected Deposit requirement--would drop-off and call PG&E Customer Service. This new Wave Deposit feature was designed to both alleviate calls to Customer Service + waive their deposit requirement.

The thought by stakeholders was, "When we show new customers the deposit requirement, we'll let them know about our Wave Deposit program, along with a link to a separate page with all the fine print."

 

I knew we could do better! I said...

  • First off, most people don't read the fine print.

  • Second, even for those who DO read the fine print--faced with an unexpected deposit requirement and having to sift through fine print in an anxiety-prone state, won't go over well.

How about if we make it SIMPLE for them!

  • What IF we were to boil it down into, say, 3 Easy Steps--and outline what those steps are.

  • Most new customers would breathe a sigh of relief and think, "Oh, just 3 Easy Steps? I can do that!"

  • Sure, let's still include the link to the fine print for those inclined to read it, plus we probably need to for legal reasons.

Fortunately, stakeholders agreed with my CX Strategy.

The successfully launched Waive Deposit feature had a sign-up rate of over 75%--far exceeding expectations!

It's one thing to make expected user tasks--work better. It's what UX strives to accomplish. It's something else entirely to take an unexpected and stressful user scenario--and completely flip it around into calm, easy & accessible--topped-off by an exceedingly high sign-up rate! And do so within an ultra-lean budget. This UX/CX Strategy accomplishment I'm immensely proud of.

WAIVE DEPOSIT

 

Certain factors could result in a deposit requirement to start service for new customers. This led to anxious calls to PG&E Customer Service.

Business Goal: Implement online Waive Deposit program, where new customers could have their deposit requirement eliminated, upon meeting certain conditions.

CX/UX Strategy: Instead of forcing new customers to sift through fine print in an anxiety-prone state, make it EASY! Break it down into a few easy-to-understand, actionable steps so that users would be inclined to respond, "Oh, just 3 easy steps? I can do that!"

 

The successfully launched Waive Deposit feature had a sign-up rate of over 75%--far exceeding expectations!

In addition, increased payment arrangements 30% via implementation of online recurring payments for checking/savings and NEW debit/credit card options.

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CX STRATEGY

Start/Stop/Transfer

Remove unnecessary requirements
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Calls to Customer Service dropped 45%

CX Strategy on Start/Stop/Transfer

For existing PG&E Customers moving to another address within PG&E service area, a Start/Stop/Transfer request would be initiated. This comprised of

  • Start date of service for the new address.

  • Stop date of service for the old address.

  • Transfer of their existing account from old to new address.

As such, a Start/Stop/Transfer request is primarily about dates.

Unfortunately, the online Start/Stop/Transfer process wasn't so simple. Instead, Customers were dropping-off online and calling PG&E Customer Service to accomplish the Start/Stop/Transfer process. Why? Because there was also a requirement on picking a Rate Plan! Worse still, it wasn't even defaulted to their existing Rate Plan, so users couldn't easily bypass.

I knew we could do better!  I said...

  • WHY are we requiring existing customers planning a move to select a Rate Plan?

  • Moving is stressful enough, even under the best of circumstances. Under less-than-ideal circumstances, even MORE stressful!

  • People have "a million things to check-off their Moving To-Do List" and have a low threshold for unnecessary complications.

Let's make it SIMPLE for them!

  • We should eliminate the unnecessary Rate Plan requirement.

  • IF we can't eliminate it (as the Rate Plans dept will likely object), then at least make it OPTIONAL so that users can bypass it, if they so wish.

  • Use the opportunity to reach out to customers a few months after their move when they're settled-in to ask, "Would you like to explore rate plans?" Customers would be more inclined to do so, when they don't have so much on their plate with moving. And with all the "micro-climates" here in CA, exploring different Rate Plan options could easily make sense.

Fortunately, stakeholders agreed with my CX Strategy.

Selecting a Rate Plan was changed from a requirement to optional in the revised Start/Stop/Transfer process.

Calls to Customer Service dropped 45% as a result!

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FINAL THOUGHTS

Wrap-up

PG&E was a different environment, compared to most Tech companies in Silicon Valley. As a Regulated Public Utility, PG&E was legally required to adhere to strict WCAG 2.0 / Section 508 Compliance, and I learned so much on Accessibility standards. Most we were able to accomplish ourselves + there was an outside Accessibility Compliance firm we could reach out to for definitive guidance.

 

Agile was a new process being implemented at PG&E to eventually replace Waterfall (I definitely prefer Agile!) so this was a step in the right direction.

 

These were ultra-lean budgets, so we were tasked with making the most out of less. Yes, it IS possible with some creative thinking and ingenuity!

 

Other challenges: Us CX Designers were working on Macs, whereas PG&E internal applications were all PC-platforms (transferring design files required creative solutions).

 

Allocated to 2-3 simultaneous projects at any given time; thus different teams and stakeholders.


My CX colleague was invaluable in providing insights into navigating corporate policies and procedures; I couldn't have done it without her!

The vendor, World Wide Technology (WWT) was great to work with, and I definitely look forward to working with them again on future projects.

 

CONTACT

Leopard Design, Inc.

MAILING ADDRESS

1547 Palos Verdes Mall #294

Walnut Creek, CA  94597-2228​

PHONE

(650) 259-8080

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